From Our Blog

When Experiments Go Well: How a New Investment from the Jim Joseph Foundation Will Help Moving Traditions’ National Expansion

By Deborah Meyer and Jeff Tiell on June 28th, 2017

The teen years have always been a challenge. Figuring out who you are; navigating complex social systems; being pressed to succeed academically; a body that changes from day to day—almost no adult would willingly return to adolescence. In our intense modern world, with a 24/7 fishbowl of social media and a heated and polarized public debate, it is no wonder that levels of anxiety and depression are increasing, even for the most successful teen children. Fortunately, we continue to learn more every day about how to best help teens. Years of research have identified the factors that support teens to grow and thrive: adult mentors; supportive peer groups; the safety to explore difficult and personal issues with depth and honesty; and a ...More

Sharing Early Insights: Lessons Learned from the Jewish Teen Education & Engagement Funder Collaborative

By Sara Allen on June 13th, 2017

Four years ago, Effective Strategies for Educating and Engaging Jewish Teens was released, a report that brought to the fore promising models and practical ways for communities to engage teens in Jewish experiences that enrich their lives and help them grow. On the heels of the report, national and local funders representing ten communities took action, coming together to study the findings, commission additional groundbreaking reports, and to design responsive local teen engagement initiatives. Ultimately, the group evolved into a robust community: the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative. The Funder Collaborative is an innovative philanthropic experiment – a network of funders working together to develop, fund, support and grow new teen initiatives that ...More

In This Together: A Team Approach to Teen Engagement

By Malka Levitansky and Hallie Shapiro on March 20th, 2017

We’re all looking for that magic formula. That unique program, experience or methodology that will somehow not only engage Jewish teens in the present, but also keep them Jewishly involved on college campus and beyond. Foundations, Jewish federations and individuals invest millions of dollars a year in engaging the next generation of Jews. At the same time, there are tens of thousands of Jewish youth professionals, some affiliated with youth groups and others with Jewish organizations, working in the trenches to reach Jewish teens and connect them to their heritage. And there are educators, and consultants, and other experts contributing their expertise and then evaluating all of these efforts in search of answers. But the solution seems to be eluding us. Perhaps it’s because ...More

A Special Spirit at the Summit

By Chip Edelsberg on March 2nd, 2016

As readers of this blog, you are likely aware that the Jim Joseph Foundation Board has selected Barry Finestone to be the Foundation’s President and CEO. I am excited for Barry; for the Foundation Board of Directors and staff; and for stakeholders in the excellence of Jewish education. In preparation for the transition, I took a number of steps to bolster the organizational structure of the Foundation. Most important among these moves is expanded management responsibilities for various professional personnel: in supervising and talent management for Assistant Director Dawne Bear Novicoff; in Foundation strategizing for Josh Miller, promoted to Program Director; in grantmaking responsibilities for Stacie Cherner, promoted to Senior Program Director; and Steven Green, whose relations with grantees in a ...More

Elevating Teen Engagement through Community Collaboration

By Melanie Gruenwald and Ellen Erie on January 5th, 2016

For many Jewish families, the bar or bat mitzvah is a child’s transition to Jewish “adulthood” and, unfortunately, the end of their active involvement in Jewish life. The jarring statistic is that less than 20 percent of Jewish teens remain involved in Jewish life post-bar or bat mitzvah. In response, many in the Jewish organizational world are re-focusing efforts on those critical, formative teen years.  What more can we do to create connection and meaning for Jewish teens, both now and as they move into adulthood? The answers to this question should reflect the major engagement opportunity that the teen years actually present. During these years, as identities are forming, young people want to explore, to question, and to learn. Organizations such ...More

The Jim Joseph Foundation invests in promising Jewish education grant initiatives. We partner with effective organizations that seek to inspire young people to discover the joy of living vibrant Jewish lives.